BEING HUMAN - HOW DO YOU WRITE IT?
New to BH? This post does not contain spoilers, but the comments might...
We all know the story... Armed only with a laptop, a good idea and a serious ability to concentrate, Toby Whithouse managed to create the drama we all know and love - Being Human.
But surely it's more complicated than that, right? Well, to give us more of an insight into Toby's mind, and shed light on his life as a writer, the BBC's Writersroom has spoken to the man himself for a fantastic in-depth interview.
We've selected a couple of juicy chunks to get you started...
You started out as an actor. What made you decide to become a writer?
Being an actor I had a lot of spare time on my hands and so I just started to write. I had an idea, literally just an idea for a gag. So I wrote it down. Then I thought, well if somebody says that then you need the feed line into it, and then somebody would say that afterwards. And it expanded in both directions until characters started to take shape, and these two people who were talking suddenly became brothers, and they were in a café. And it built up from there until eventually I had the first draft of a play.
The plan was that I put it on myself in some little sticky-carpet pub theatre with my other unemployed actor friends, but it took on a life of its own. I got a literary agent from it. We entered it for the Verity Bargate which it won, and suddenly they could get much better actors than me in it, and that was that.
On the basis of that I started being offered TV work, and then one thing led to another and now I'm talking to you.
How did you come to develop Being Human?
Touchpaper, which is an independent TV company, approached me and said "We want to do a flat share drama about a group of friends from university who buy a house together and the stresses and strains it puts on their relationship." And I thought that's probably the dullest idea for a story I've ever heard. I was actually on the verge of turning it down. And then I remember walking home one night, and the ideas for three characters just fell into place, fully formed.
So I wrote pages and pages of biogs for these characters, and we spent nearly a year developing this version of the show and got absolutely nowhere. And decided to have one last meeting and if nothing came of that then we would just call it a day. And about half way through the meeting I said "Well of course we could turn George into a werewolf." And then we decided if he's a werewolf then Mitchell should be a vampire and Annie should be a ghost.
So we started to develop that and suddenly we were going off in a completely different direction. I wrote a version of the show which was essentially just a sitcom, and the characters were much further advanced in terms of how they'd assimilated into society. George had his own little company, Mitchell worked in a call centre, Annie had a job in an office, even though they were a werewolf, a vampire, and dead. I did loads and loads of drafts of it, and then the BBC read it and they had some thoughts and we had some thoughts and so on, and we decided to just completely start again from scratch.
And this time I thought, rather than write it as a sitcom I'm going to pretend I'm writing a low-budget American independent film. Then we got this call from the BBC saying hey, we're going to do a series of pilots. Do you want it to be in that? And I said not really. But it was either that or it doesn't get made so we went into the series of pilots and then all hell broke loose.
Read the full interview at the BBC's Writersroom.